Gender Roles in Romance
It’s 2015 and one major issue that still exists (on top of so many others) is gender role stereotypes. This is a problem in romance/erotica novels. Over the last year or so I’ve begun to notice a stigmization in the genre. You’re thinking it’s the female character, right? Wrong. It’s the male character that has been pigeonholed into a specific role. It doesn’t matter if it’s for m/f or m/m, there are specific arch types that male characters must be placed in, and if he deviates from that format, there’s a major issue.
In m/f romance, how often do we see the alpha male? It doesn’t matter if he’s in a kilt, slaying demons, or a powerful CEO. Whatever setting he’s in, he’s always a walking powerhouse of dominance. He’s never weak, never displays emotions beyond anger or lust, and while he may be sweet with the heroine, it’s a kind of tenderness that’s appropriate for an alpha male.
For m/m romance there are two roles to fill—the alpha male and what I’ll call the omega role (or the bottom). But even as the bottom, there is a certain masculinity that’s required, less the character tip too far into the feminine side.
These arch types are the idealized and over-sexualized roles the media has conditioned us to believe is appropriate. Male characters that break this mold are frowned upon. I think it’s time we change that. While writing I Am Hope, I didn’t want to define my characters by their gender roles. I wanted them to be human. They weren’t sequestered to the bottom or top, or even forced to alter their emotions to what society has deemed appropriate for a man.
I want to see more male characters that cry, who are weak, and break. I want to see strong male characters that aren’t afraid to fight and who make poor decisions. I want them to be real. I want female characters like this and I want male characters like this. I want to see the female character dominate the male character. I want to see the female character comfort the male character, who’s sobbing and wrecked. I want to read about unbridled laughter. I want to read about role reversal, when two male characters share the top and bottom position, depending on their mood. I want more gender fluid characters, non-gender characters, and characters who just don’t know what they are.
Too often we force our characters into two genders—male or female. And there’s so much more than that. Our characters are more than their genders, and I think it’s time that the media and publishing market start to realize that.
Title: I Am Hope
Series: The Meteora Trilogy
Author: Evelyn Shepherd
Publisher: Loose Id Publication
Cover Artist: Valerie Tibbs
Length: 70,000 words
Release Date: September 8, 2015
Blurb: The undead were only the beginning.
Topher, Jesse, and Sawyer thought their greatest threat were the Infected and Mutated that roam the world. As they struggle to reach the camp in Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina, they soon discover that the monstrous mutations of the undead are the least of their problems. Something else, something far more intelligent and lethal, is hunting them.
Topher knows that the only way humanity will survive is to find a cure for the strange infection that’s ravaged the world. He’s on the brink of discovering it; but the further his research goes, the more he realizes that curing the world of the infection may mean losing Sawyer.
The three will fight to stay together, and Topher will have to make the ultimate choice: cure the world or save his lover?
A scream broke through my dream. I groggily rolled over and burrowed into Sawyer’s chest. He mumbled something against the top of my head. Sleep lapped at my mind, holding me down. I dreamed of pleasant emptiness; I was in a void, where my brain could shut down. Warmth surrounded me, lulling me into a deeper slumber.
Another scream, louder. I opened my eyes, staring at Sawyer’s chest. Why was there screaming? Something was wrong. Something was horribly wrong.
“Jesse!” Chloe banged on the bifold bedroom door. “Get out here!”
Jesse jolted out of bed. He grabbed his pants and hastily pulled them on. As he jammed his feet into his boots, he ordered, “Get dressed.”
“What’s going on?” Sawyer asked. He climbed over the bed and found his own clothes.
I knuckled the sleep from my eyes and hurriedly dressed. Jesse was out the door by the time I pulled my shirt on. I followed him into the main compartment, Sawyer behind me. Rio sat on the couch next to Jaden, who was curled up with his blanket. On the table was a camping lamp, which filled the RV with yellow light.
“What’s going on?” I asked, straightening my shirt.
“Something is going down with Jane,” Rio said. “I heard it out in the truck.”
Evelyn Shepherd lives in Columbus, Ohio with two fat cats. Her time is split between writing and running a book/writing blog. She’s the author of the Theo Bourne Series, the best-selling Last Canticle, and the award-winning Meteora Trilogy.
Winner’s Prize: Complete Set of The Meteora Trilogy books
September 14: Queer Sci-Fi
September 15: Sue Brown
September 16: Because Two Men Are Better Than One
September 17: Hearts on Fire
September 18: Diverse Reader
September 21: Joyfully Jay
September 22: Love Bytes Reviews
September 23: Divine Magazine
September 24: Cia’s Stories
September 25: Tempeste O’Riley
September 28: Sid Love Writes
September 29: Prism Book Alliance